|Danas, 30 July 2011
HRH Crown Prince Alexander’s Interview for Danas
Crown Prince Alexander about relations between politicians and the Royal House, Parliamentary Monarchy, incident on Gazimestan
WE ARE NOT TELLING ANYONE WHAT TO DO, BUT OTHERS DO TELL US
By Jelena Tasic
The Head of Royal Home of Karadjordjevic, Crown Prince Alexander, celebrated his 66th birthday on July 17, as well as the 10th anniversary of his permanent return to Serbia. This year he also marked two decades since his first visit to the homeland. In an interview with Danas Crown Prince Alexander talks about those personal jubilees, relations between the Royal House of Karadjordjevic and prominent politicians in Serbia, Parliamentary Monarchy, reactions on his congratulations for General Ratko Mladic's arrest, incident on Gazimestan …
What do those anniversaries related to Your return to Serbia mean to You, and what You can say regarding Your role in public and political life during these years?
Those are very important, I would say historic anniversaries. Not only for me. A lot of things have happened, our life has changed, but also lives of our citizens in our country and of people all around the world. About my activities I would say the following: I have done all I could and as much as I could to help my people and my country. About my successes and failures history will tell. My wife and I are very happy to have worked for charity and education in Serbia and we are proud of our achievements. There have been many activities both in Serbia and abroad. We have had tough times maintaining the royal compound which is a big responsibility, but we hope all will be well to preserve this important Serbian Versailles.
What You consider your biggest achievement regarding the progress of Serbia and is there anything You would do differently bearing in mind Your experience over last 20 years?
Apart from all the humanitarian and education work, I am proud of my help with foreign investments in Serbia. Also my wife and I have proudly worked on the image of Serbia abroad and maintained our large international friends. Of course much more could be done if there was a will from some of our politicians to cooperate better and in the interest and the well-being of Serbia. My wife, children and family are not competitors, but rather people who wish and always ready to help the people of Serbia.
One and a half year ago you said that your ambitions don't stop with humanitarian work and promotion of Serbia abroad. What do Serbian political parties say about your commitment to the concept of Parliamentary Monarchy?
It is interesting to note that political party grassroots are favorable to Constitutional Monarchy, but that the higher echelons of the political party appear to see Constitutional Monarchy as competition and a threat to them when in fact that is very wrong. I can only be beneficial to all political parties and a big help in promoting Serbia and our image. It is interesting to note that in a Constitutional Monarchy we would have the same politicians as today with the exception of the head of state that would be neutral. Constitutional Parliamentary Monarchies are economically developed and democratic societies, as we can see with the United Kingdom, Kingdom of Spain, Kingdom of Netherlands, Kingdom of Belgium, Kingdom of Norway, Kingdom of Denmark, Kingdom of Sweden, to mention just the European Kingdoms.
Is your first born son Peter preparing for eventual role of the Monarch? Why did you refuse to follow advice of your late uncle Tomislav and some of Serbian bishops to bring your sons back to Serbia to finish schools here?
I respected my late uncle very much, and discussed many things and even argued with him. But I never advised him on how to raise his children, and he never advised me on that, either. My sons are very decent young men, and they love their homeland and their people very much, and who try to make successful careers so that they could make their own decisions instead of implementing others advice. I would like to see them coming more often, and I believe it will happen.
What are your thoughts about draft Law on Royal compound in Dedinje, which has been queening for a long time before get into Parliament, and which envisages that appropriate State departments should take care about Royal Palaces, instead of Fond Royal Palace?
Until there is a restitution bill that includes all the properties of my that were confiscated it is vital the Royal Compound be properly maintained and preserved since the two palaces require a lot of repairs. We have had a very difficult time keeping the palaces open and staff on duty to keep them opened for the thousands of visitors.
Did you really waive the ownership over Royal Palaces for the benefit of the State, as members of the commission for implementation of this law say?
Neither I neither or family have waived anything, nor we have any reason to do that. We want the situation which is very difficult that it should be solved in a systematic way, so not to have to argue over ruins of something that has been historical monument, national cultural good and historical treasure.
Is it realistic to expect under present circumstances, as You do, that the Serbian government could propose a law to regulate status of Karadjordjevic Royal Dynasty, due to pressure from the EU regarding restitution?
Why not? Those European values that everyone is talking about are not goods on shelves in supermarkets, so you could take what you like, and leave someone else to pay the bill. Different countries solved this question in different ways, but almost every country solved it! I do not expect that any Serbian Government would regard Karadjordje as its ancestor and Karadjordje’s descendants their enemies.
It has been 50 years since the death of your grandmother, Queen Maria, recently. Is there any chance to fulfill her wish to bury her in Oplenac, and is the current Serbian government ready to allow that your father and mother, as well as your uncle, one King, one Queen and one Prince, could be buried there too with state honors?
Not just Queen Maria, but also King Peter, Queen Alexandra and Prince Andrej, they are all refugees after death.
Since I came back to Serbia I have been talking and writing to Presidents and Prime Ministers and Patriarchs. The Church has expressed full support, all the others politely expressed their consent but did nothing at the same time. Twenty two years ago the Montenegrin authorities brought the remains of King Nikola, Queen Milena, Princesses Xenia and Vjera, and buried them with honors. Haile Selassie, savagely killed, was buried in Addis Ababa, the heart of Louis XVII was buried in France, Empress Zita was buried in Vienna, as well as her son Otto for Habsburg recently. Here, we seem to have more important things to do. And it is not just wrong, but even more distressing!
The Serbian public is divided regarding rehabilitation of General Dragoljub Mihailovic, commander of King's army in the homeland and leader of Ravna Gora Movement, whose grave was recently discovered. What are your comments on that?
Everyone deserves respect and that very much includes General Mihajlovic. It is very important that those who lost their lives on all sides in the terrible Civil War during the Second World War should be remembered and respected. We must respect all our dead and come together and unite under one nation.
Who are “misled” right wing extremists who, as you said recently, “could endanger the future of Serbia as an EU member”?
I really used the term “right wing” although today it doesn’t mean anything, especially in Serbia. Why should I really speak about right wing or left wing, when there are plenty of people who earned their PhDs on that in this country. When I spoke about the endangering of our accession to EU, I wanted to remind that it is not us that set the conditions, but that there others who set conditions for us. It is not nice, nor democratic, neither elegant nor dignified. But that is the case now. We could endlessly discuss whose fault it is. I do not remember anyone on the political scene of Serbia who said loud and clear that Serbia should not become a member of the EU. I even suspect that there are lot of people, even among those who protested loudly in Gazimestan, who look forward to that.
What do you think about the stance that “EU has no alternative?
I believe that at the moment for Serbia it would be best, regarding economic development and political stability, to become full member of the European Union. And all the countries in our region to try to do the same, or have already done that.
PROVOKING THE MEDIA
What is your explanation for constant media fear that State is financing the Karadjordjevic family without any control?
The state claims at this time that the Royal Compound is under their jurisdiction and therefore logically the state should be responsible for the maintenance and ongoing repairs until there is a proper restitution bill. There has always been full control and no funds go to the family. I would not say it is fear within media, but it rather looks like as somebody is constantly provoking the media to raise questions that do not really exist.
I CONGRATULATED MLADIC’S ARREST AS A CONCERNED SERBIAN
Your congratulation to president of Serbia and the Serbian government after the arrest of General Ratko Mladic caused different reactions, and some monarchist circles didn't like it, to put it mildly. Even the question “was it you, a British officer, who congratulated the Serbian General's arrest”? What are your comments?
I was aware that my statement would be received in different ways, and I am sorry for that. It had a simple cause: The country of Serbia, via its’ president, its’ government, its’ parliament, made a very difficult decision, which could be potential political suicide. I do not believe that they made it lightly and without serious elaboration, but they thought it was right the thing to do at that moment. I believe that there should not be any further division within our nation at this time. And I still believe so. In an army and that also includes our army there are very firm rules that an officer is responsible for the action of the men under ones command and also for one’s own actions. My great grandfather King Peter I was an officer in the France army in exile like I was in the British army in exile. I must firmly point out that it was me a concerned Serbian who congratulated our president and government for the arrest. Of course there are faults with many judicial jurisdictions, but what happened in Bosnia was not sanctioned or approved by the Serbian people. I will say that during the nineties there were no angels in the former Yugoslavia. I remember seeing a video on our television news showing soldiers shooting tied up prisoners and I was disgusted. In my view one killed person is one person too many killed. The monarchist circles who disliked my statement clearly do not represent constitutional Parliamentary Monarchy, but rather an extremist form of dictatorship. I am for democracy and the rule of law. I know that some Monarchists were disappointed, hurt, and irritated by my decision. That’s their right and I understand that.
What can you tell us about recent incident in Gazimestan, where you have been greeted with “we want the King” chanting before? Those who chanted Mladic’s name now said they were provoked with your congratulations.
What I can’t understand is that Gazimestan is being used to protest. You can’t do that. It is a sacred place where you can express yourself with your heart, ratio, faith and love. When you visit Gazimestan, you are there because you believe to do the right thing. When you are in Gazimestan, it is not your home, but it is the home of our nation soul, home of glory and honor, home of martyrs, you must walk quietly and spare the words there. Dead speak there! We who usurp, or get the right to speak there, we speak to those dead but immortal souls. Maybe we cannot speak, but we can try not to mock them. If we fail, let God help us.
Summer is not just for holidays. Many things happen during the summer, and I try to keep in touch. My wife and I were guests at two Royal weddings this summer – in Monaco and Jordan. We were guests of His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan who we know for a long time. We used these opportunities to meet with some very dear and important people. We plan to come back to Belgrade soon, says Crown Prince Alexander about his plans for the summer.